For countless people around the world, living a calmer, more relaxed, and more focused life is a goal we’re eager to achieve, but for many of us, finding the path to inner peace is a harder one to navigate than we anticipated. Our waking hours are consumed by work, social commitments, and those minor inconveniences and delays, from running errands to sitting in traffic on the way home, and the time we’re supposed to be using for sleep is often interrupted by the intrusive thoughts spurred by those same distractions that have eaten up most of our daytime hours, too. While adding hours to the day might not be possible in this lifetime, meditating before bed can yield countless benefits that spill over into every aspect of your daily life, from your frustration level to your overall health. If you’re looking to improve your life, find out how meditation before bed can help you.
With a million tasks to carry out every day, it can feel like there’s rarely a time when you allow your mind to go completely blank. While it’s inadvisable for this kind of mental stillness to happen when you’re behind the wheel or giving a presentation at work, getting some silence going in your brain can be a huge boon at bedtime. Unlike other activities we often turn to for relaxation, like reading, watching TV, or exercising, all of which can overstimulate a person, making it more difficult to go to sleep, meditation before bed can help you enjoy a clear mind free of worry, making it easy to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
While we often associate weight loss with intense workouts, meditation may actually help you lose those unwanted pounds, as well. What does your weight have to do with your sleeping habits? A surprising amount. For many people who are overweight or obese, the pressure that lying down on a firm surface, like a bed, puts on their joints can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. When you don’t get a sufficient amount of sleep, your body increases its production of ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger. This can lead to overeating, creating a cycle that’s almost impossible to break. Extra pounds can also put you at increased risk for sleep apnea, which can not only disturb your REM cycle, it can actually increase your risk of sudden death. Fortunately, researchers at Harvard have found that meditation can not only reduce stress, it can actually create visible changes in your brain, potentially making it easier to make mindful choices throughout the day, including saying no to that bag of chips or cookie that’s been tempting you.
Stress is bad for more than just your mood, but meditation can offer an easy fix. A heightened state of stress can elevate the levels of the hormone cortisol circulating in your bloodstream, which multiple studies have linked to weight gain, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and early death. The good news is that meditation can help you relieve stress in almost no time at all. Just a few minutes of meditation is all you need to decompress after a hard day, helping you banish those thoughts that would otherwise keep you up at night. Research published in the December 2013 edition of JAMA Internal Medicine found that people with insomnia who meditated over a six-week period not only had an easier time falling asleep, but noticed the quality of their sleep improving, too.
Sure, your work hours may technically be from 9 to 5, but for many of us, we’re still on the clock long after we’ve left the office. That often means we’re checking our phones and responding to emails in bed or other indulging in other stress-related work habits that keep us from getting the restful sleep we deserve. However, adding in some meditation before bed can help keep those urges to do work at bay, and, even better, give you something else to occupy your time — when you’re close to reaching nirvana, reaching for your phone suddenly seems a lot less important.
Mental clarity and stillness aren’t the only things that can spring from meditation; it can also help you calm your body, too. Meditation allows you to rest, relax, and get in touch with what you’re feeling both mentally and physically, making it easier to identify and move past any physical issues that might keep you from sleeping.
No matter how busy your schedule, you deserve some time to rest, relax, and let the troubles of your day-to-day life melt away. Luckily, you don’t need to book a spa weekend or quit your job to get the peace you seek; a bit of meditation before bed can help you sleep better, get healthier, and enjoy each day a bit more.